Orlando summit to showcase city’s immersive tech leadership

A two-day summit in Orlando will be a flex of the region’s strength in immersive technologies as much as it will be a place for the city’s tech community to gather, industry leaders said this week.

The VR/AR Association’s Central Florida contingent will bring its second Immersive Technology Summit to Full Sail University on Thursday and Friday.

Among the industries it will showcase are medical tech, digital twins and education technology.

“Orlando’s rise as a center for immersive tech presents a unique opportunity to assess its impact and potential,” said Innovate Orlando CEO David Adelson, who will lead a discussion about how immersive tech creates new opportunities for growth in Central Florida. “Panels like these serve to quantify this impact by gathering experts who can provide insights, data, and perspectives on the industry’s growth trajectory and its implications for the local economy.”


Leaning into our strengths

Orlando’s business community industry has leaned into its strength in technology ever since the city emerged from the coronavirus pandemic.

Events like the VRARA summit offer periodic check-ins for executives and experts who generally build on their own.

In addition, the events offer an opportunity to invite people from outside of the community to check out what’s happening here.

For example, San Francisco-based mixed reality expert Amy Peck will return as a keynote speaker.

That the event is happening shortly after programs from outside of Orlando like Plug and Play and RevRoad announced plans to launch here is significant, too, UCF Business Incubator Program director of programs and operations Carol Ann Dykes said.

“We have all been watching this (growth) happen slowly and build over time,” she said. “We have always been saying, ‘We’re almost there.’ The seeds that so many people have planted over the last decade in this community and worked so hard to plant externally have all started to come together here in this community.”

Is there such a thing as ‘perfect timing?’

The timing of the summit just happens to be perfect, said John Cunningham, the VRARA’s Orlando-based chief operating officer.

“We are at this inflection point where the industry needs these immersive technologies and we happen to have a solid group of capabilities that the companies need to leverage,” he said. “VRARA focuses on connecting people around technology. It’s not just about the tech but getting people in the business to connect to each other.”

The summit will bring officials from high-profile companies like HTC, Varjo and Magic Leap into Central Florida.

The idea is to make connections so that local business leaders, who will make up the vast majority of speakers and presenters, can have face time with them.

“They are coming to collaborate with leading local companies,” Cunningham said.

Among those singled out by Cunningham is 302 Interactive, a company building interactive experiences in downtown Orlando using emerging technologies, including virtual and augmented reality.

“Central Florida has been a great environment for us to build,” said CEO Kyle Morrand, who will lead sessions on immersive tech in entertainment. “The region has taken strides in becoming this central point for emerging technology that builds upon our long history in innovation that dates back to even before Walt Disney World launched and grew here. So, it makes sense to have this summit here.”

By spending two days with multiple tracks focused on specific industries, it can quantify the capabilities that exist in Central Florida, Dykes said.

“If you don’t understand the emerging technologies we have here, you can’t do economic development here effectively,” she said. “You can’t articulate a value proposition to bring companies here and you can’t support them if they are already here.”

That they happen to be some of the hottest industries in technology today is just a bonus, she said.

“This is who we are.”